Bishops restore Sunday Mass Obligation

At their Plenary Assembly in Cardiff, the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales have restored the Sunday Obligation to attend Mass, citing a significant lessening of the challenges of the pandemic. The Bishops’ Conference has therefore issued an invitation to all Catholics who have not yet done so to return to attending Mass in person.

Returning to Mass at Pentecost

An invitation from the Bishops of England and Wales

This is the bread come down from heaven (John 6:58)

A beautiful hallmark of the Catholic faith is the profound desire to participate in the Holy
Mass and share in the Eucharist. We do so with deep gratitude and joy. The Eucharist gives
the Church her identity – “The Eucharist makes the Church, and the Church makes the
Eucharist”. It enables us to worship Almighty God, to support each other on our journey of
faith, and to be a visible sign of faith in the world. This hallmark is supported and
strengthened by the precept that our fundamental Christian duty is to worship God by
participating in the celebration of Mass. Attending Mass on Sundays and Holy Days is the
greatest of all privileges, sometimes referred to as “the Sunday Obligation”.

Since the beginning of the Covid pandemic, until the present time, we have shared with you
our judgment that the situation of the last two years has meant that the Sunday Obligation
has been impeded and has needed to be fulfilled in other ways. We thank God that this
situation has now changed. The pressing challenges of the pandemic have lessened
significantly. Most people have resumed the wide range of normal activities, no longer
restricted by the previous Covid measures. We therefore believe that the reasons which have
prevented Catholics from attending Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation no
longer apply.

We understand there will still be some members of our congregations who, for reasons of
health, do not feel safe enough to return to Mass. It has always been the understanding of
the Church that when the freedom of any Catholic to attend Mass in person is impeded for
a serious reason, because of situations such as ill health, care for the sick or legitimate fear,
this is not a breach of the Sunday Obligation.

Our Catholic people and parishes have benefitted during these difficult times from the
online streaming of Mass and other services. “Virtual viewing” of Mass online does not fulfil
the Sunday Obligation. It may, however, be a source of continual spiritual comfort to those
who cannot attend Mass in person, for example those who are elderly and sick, for whom
the obligation does not apply. In this context, we recognise gratefully the ministry of those
who administer Holy Communion to the elderly, sick and housebound.

We are grateful to our clergy, religious and lay faithful who have served our parishes,
schools and communities with dedication and distinction throughout this pandemic. Now
we look forward with renewed faith and confidence.

In the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Lord’s Supper, the Lord Jesus entrusted to us the
precious gift of Himself. With humility, we glory in being a Eucharistic people for whom
attendance at Mass is essential. Looking forward to the forthcoming feast of Pentecost, we
now invite all Catholics who have not yet done so to return to attending Mass in person.
As the Church needs the witness of the presence of each person, so too each believer needs
to journey in faith and worship with their fellow disciples. Nourished by our encounter with
the Risen Lord Jesus, fed with His Word and His Body and Blood in Holy Communion, and
supported by the presence of each other, we receive strength week by week, to serve the
Lord and glorify Him with our lives.

Approved by the Plenary Assembly of the Bishops’ Conference

6 May 2022

Pictures courtesy of Catholic Church flickr stream